A charter system is a public school system that operates under a charter or contract approved by the district's school board and the state Board of Education, with the agreement allowing the system greater flexibility in various areas as long as it can maintain student performance-based objectives. The district became a charter system on July 1 -- its charter application had been approved by the Georgia Board of Education last month.
Board members at Thursday's work session discussed the class size resolution that they are set to vote on at Monday's business session. Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said the limits listed in the resolution parallel most of the maximum class sizes prescribed by the Georgia Board of Education during the 2009-2010 school year. He said the district's classes remained under most of those maximums during the course of the past year.
"In the charter, we said the school board, upon getting recommendations from the schools, would set what the class sizes would be for each year that we are existing under the charter," Clouse said.
Class sizes vary, as state guidelines have prescribed different limits for classes based on subject, grade and the classification of students in a class, such as special education or gifted.
But one proposed change to the size limits will address an issue the system had last year -- the student limits for regular education classes would be applied to gifted classes, which normally have smaller enrollment caps. The increase will allow schools to serve more students who desire the more-rigorous classes.
"When you were capped at 21 in a class, that automatically -- unless we went and hired more staff, which we did not have the money for and we were not going to earn enough money from the state last year -- then we were almost excluding [students]," Clouse said. "You could get a waiver from the state to increase that, but they were only approving waivers, especially in gifted, of two or three students maximum.
"This is one of the ones we've actually argued with the state for several years about, indicating that you should be able to take students that have been identified as gifted in some area and have more of those students, who tend to be a little more interested in the content, sometimes better behaved ... but have a propensity to do well in those particular subjects and content areas, and have at least as many students in those as you do in regular ed. classes. Most everyone in the state is now going to this given the leeway the state board has allowed," Clouse added.
The state board in May granted an exemption of all statutory and regulatory class size maximums for the 2010-2011 school year, citing a need to give school systems more flexibility amid the continued economic downturn that has affected local communities and the state. Cartersville's charter status effectively made the exemption moot in its case since its contract allows the district to determine its own class sizes.
Board members next week also will consider the final reading of changes to a policy dealing with nonresident students. The recommended changes add an additional component to the qualifications for enrollment or continued enrollment of students who are not city residents.
While nonresident students already have to demonstrate patterns of good attendance and punctuality, maintain a C average or better in each class and have good behavior, the proposed rules state that such students and their parents/guardians must show cooperation and support to the school district. Nonresidents may be denied enrollment or continued enrollment if the parent demonstrates an attitude of "uncooperativeness, antagonism, threats, ridicule or slanderous comments toward school programs, process or personnel."
The board will meet Monday at 6 p.m. in the central office boardroom.